SK Modified Takes Down Catch Fence At New London-Waterford Speedbowl

The aftermath of a crash in turn three at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Sunday night (Photo: Alisha Goss)

A crash in the SK Modified division tonight at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl took down a large chunk of the catch fence at the shoreline oval.

Witnesses reported four ambulances on site treating those injured immediately following the accident.

Amateur video of the incident shot from the pits (see video below) shows the SK Modified of Tim Jordan up on two wheels riding the wall before shredding a portion of the catch fence in turn three.

A post on the Speedbowl’s Facebook page read: “We’re happy to report everyone involved in tonight’s incident is okay. We will release relevant details about any scheduling plans as soon as they’re made available. Goodnight from the Speedbowl”

Multiple sources close to the scene said two people were transported to hospitals by ambulance with what appeared to be non-life threatening injuries.

Nobody from Speedbowl management was immediately available for comment.

The crash happened with 42 laps completed in the 100-lap SK Modified feature, part of the final day of the three-day Finale weekend at the track.

Jordan was battling for fifth place with Glen Reen coming off of turn two when contact between them sent Jordan riding up the wall down the backstretch. Video shows Jordan’s car up on two wheels riding the wall before a pit gate just before turn three.

The car clears the gate opening on two wheels then gets into the fence just after the opening. As the car rights itself heading back down onto four wheels chunks of the fence and the posts holding the fence can be seen getting ripped down by the speeding car.

The video shows a large group of people standing just behind the fence. The video cuts out with people running and screaming.

Jordan was out of his car and walking around on track after the incident.

Keith Rocco was leading the race at the time of the crash with Andrew Molleur in second and Dennis Gada in third.

Track owner Bruce Bemer had a new catch-fence installed at the track following the 2015 season.


  1. Well that explains it. I was wondering why they only had 42 of 100 laps shown on race monitor. Thanks Shawn.

  2. wmass01013 says

    Prayers to alll involved!
    This is why you keep hearing announcers say get back from the Fence at races, maybe this was the pits But way tooo many people close to the fence, if this was the Old catch fence i am sure things would have been a lot worse.

  3. Stuart A Fearn says

    Great job pulling together the facts and letting the race community know. Thank you

  4. Thank God all drivers and spectators will be OK and great job by Cohanzie Fire/EMS handling the scene. Happy to see the car and driver safety systems worked as designed and the new catch fence did its job.

    Thanks Shawn for keeping us informed on the facts.

  5. Scary moment, praying everyone is ok

  6. Longtimefan says

    If this was the old catch fence, this likely would have been an unthinkable, sport changing tragedy. Thank God it wasn’t worse

  7. Viva Race Fan says

    Amen 🙏

  8. So I was behind the fence and not near the fence in the pits. I got banged around from impact but I’m ok. The fence did it’s job !

  9. It’s about the continuous cables man and less about the fence. The fence may be shrapnel. See those cheesy cast fittings at the top joining the vertical length to the one at 45 degrees? Bad idea. Very little stopping power and shrapnel when it breaks apart which you can see quite vividly on the WFSB web site.

    It’s all over the wire services or whatever the equivalent is these days and nobody really has any details mostly because the media is persona non grata at the facility.

    Bill Flood, Fox61 News
    “Calls to the Waterford Speedbowl were not returned”

    Under normal circumstances the most important race reporting media presence in Connecticut would be at the track. Covering the races but also getting details when things do wrong like here. That well is poisoned so now the best anyone can do is what has been done here. A blurry video, no first hand accounts because no reporters are present at the races and the Speedbowl management says it will announce plans for the future with regard to what, finishing this race? Good luck with that. More likely this incident will to be investigated. The insurance provider that with be paying out claims is surely going to want more details and the town or state as well.
    I guess everyone will be OK means not dead or permanently injured. If you’re the one in the hospital emergency room getting patched up just maybe you’re thinking this isn’t so OK.
    If you’ve had a incident like this the silver lining is trying to learn from it and improve safety measures. The Speedbowl tradition of standing in the corners needs to be reviewed and perhaps the fence design as well.
    Time for you Speedbowl faithful to shine now providing first hand accounts right here in this very forum or on social media.

  10. Watching the video posted by Shawn It looks like it could have been a lot worse. Though the video is short and blurry it doesnt look like the car got through the fence. Prayers for all those affected by the incident. No one wants to go to an entertainment event and leave in an ambulance injured.

    Doug the link you posted didnt work for me. I think they may have taken it down. What did it show?

  11. Without cabling, that is not a catch fence.

  12. No big deal. It’s the same picture that is contained in this story just with better resolution.

  13. The fence did the job hats off to the Waterford Speedbowl team. What every they learn from the crash they will only add to the safety of the track. And yes they will reschedule the race to finish it.

  14. I’m sure Bruce is on the job working on the fence today/ they have a race scheduled for this weekend. Hopefully everything will be done in time

  15. I have to say that The Speedbowl is a top notch facility when it comes to safety.Just the frontstretch alone you can notice all the new fencing.Great place and there were certainly great races their yesterday.

  16. NLWS Facebook
    “Michael Gada
    Uh, four people are in the hospital including my father”

    “I have to say that The Speedbowl is a top notch facility when it comes to safety.”

    Can’t speak to the accuracy of safety at the Speedbowl but the timing might be a bit off on touting it.

  17. Anything Goes says

    How do you say it’s a top notch facility for safety when you let people stand five feet from the fence during races? Great that they upgraded the fence recently, but how about enforcing some safety measures? One picture making rounds last night showed a baby stroller right near where the fence was down. You’re not a top notch facility for safety if you’re letting people stand next to a catch fence with kids in strollers.

  18. If I remember correctly this is the second time the new fencing configuration has been tested. The first by Adam Gada between turn four (was sitting right there and witnessed it all) and the starters stand. The fence did it’s job just like last night.

    All of you with short memories must have forgotten the times this happened at Daytona in the front straight and what were the injuries? All spectators and from what? Shrapnel from the cars and fencing. So if it can’t be prevented at Daytona how can you expect it from being prevented at Waterford?

    I know, it’s Waterford so just something else to bitch about. So let’s stir up as much crap as possible about something that could have been much worse. The track and car safety systems all worked, so why don’t we just thank the big guy above.

    And by the way, no one can release pertinent medical information about the injured due to HIPPA laws, not even the track. All they can do is speak in generalities based on the information they have been given.

    Just watched Sid’s View, great shot from his vantage point in the stands along with the in car camera in Jordan’s car. Very scary wreck, Jordan’s car is junk.

  19. all tracks are dangerous period ! says

    anyone bringing a child or baby in the pits is a moron. minors either.. oh I forgot minors are driving modified` s !! Thompson light poles, sand dunes, stands collapsing, track entry in turn two. how many have perished or been hurt at that facility ? oh everyone who claims to have been at stafford when a car landed in the stands or when tony J perished! talk to the inspectors at the town of Waterford and the engineers who approved the capital improvements most said would NEVER get done! still bashing ?? its terrible that people were hurt.. measure the distance from the fans standing in turn one to the fence ! remember the pile of beer cups that used to occupy that space ? people have been standing there for 50 plus years .. dont expect that to change. look at any superspeedway in NASCAR .. waterford doing its best despite what the Monday morning QBS say. That’s racing PS don’t blame the spotter ..Reen has an anger management problem and doesn’t belong in a race car, ran Jordan right to the fence after racing contact . PS Timmy rode the fence 2 weeks ago but didn’t have a car under him for long in that “dust up” . John Porter should have been taken away in hand cuffs .. one last question depending on what side of the fence you are on.. did the invocation work ??

  20. Sounds like a classic muddling of the issue to me. Throw as much stuff at a current event, show that in comparison this is a non event and move on.
    I can speak to the Stafford reference. Before Cookman went into the stands people sat down on the grass embankment right in back of a fence that was woefully inadequate as we soon found out. That was August 1983 and while I don’t remember what was done for the rest of the season I know at some point soon after the entire front stretch and beyond was redesigned. A better fence for sure but most notably those massive cables that are in place with substantial anchors at the ends. Plus the two other rows of cabled fencing in front of and in back of the high fence.
    To compare what happened at Waterford with the pre 1983 Stafford configuration is an apples and oranges kind of deal. Cabling is the key and Waterford clearly got that right in the 2015. Perhaps learning from Stafford and other tracks that it was the standard for industry safety at the time.
    If I’m interpreting Speedbowl fan speak correctly if no one is killed or maimed, no harm, no foul and move on. What’s the harm in taking a good hard look at what happened last night by people that know the subject. If cost effective improvements can to be made or policies changed regarding where spectators can stand that increase safety at least consider them.
    My deal is the cast fence links. One day, angle grinder with a cutting wheel, mig welder, skilled operator with breathing apparatus because it’s galvanized and all that separation you see wouldn’t have happened. The fence which is essentially a net would be stronger..Just saying.

  21. 🌈🦄2020 says

    Like Patty said, who was there right where it happened and was injured. The fence did it’s job. The fence which thank God was replaced shortly after Bemer bought the place, kept Jordan’s car from landing in the pits and most likely killing people. Like lonngtimefan said, this could have very well been tragic if the old fencing was still in place. I do think this could still be a game changer for the bowl as far as spectators in the pits and turn 1 go. Bottom line the fence caught Timmy’s car and kept it from going through. What would you call that Dafella?

  22. This couldn’t be the only thing that happened at the speedbowl on Sunday , there must have been some other races with winners and losers , just wondering

  23. Viva Race Fan says

    Money well spent on the new fence and stands.

    Old Fence was square chicken wire with 4 lower cables. That car ends up in pits easily.

    Bruce is all over the repair . Work is happening and waiting on fence guys and town.

  24. Ye Olde Dave says

    I betcha Jake from State Farm, or whoever carries their insurance, will be veeeery interested in why all those folks were where they were.

  25. Flo from Progressive says

    Keep seeing people saying they’re going to be back racing in less than a week. Bet their insurance company and the town might have something to say about that. Accident reports will be filed with the insurance company and questions are going to be asked. Anybody underwriting that policy is looking at video and pictures today and probably thinking about walking away from that policy.

  26. If you take a good look at Thompson’s catch fence on the front stretch you would be appalled. There is way more room there for sure, but not a lot of protection. Cars can do crazy things when they start in a direction. More so with tires exposed. A super, midget, or even a Modified could do some crazy things there.

  27. 🌈🦄2020 says

    “Without cabling that is not a catch fence” Says our resident engineer Dafella. What in the hell is he talking about? Some other random track that doesn’t have an actual catch fence? Some really great interviews across the CT TV news stations today. Good to see Bob Gada doing well on NBC 30 at the race shop after he was one of two injured. Even talked about the cabling Dafella is apparently talking about.

  28. Speedbowl14 says

    This was literally the worst case scenario… fastest part of the track and into a turn with the car completely in the fence not the concrete. One car flew out of the backstretch decades and decades ago and I believe there was no catchfence there then, just billboards so no comparison. My point is they raced like this for 65+ years without something like this happening, they could race again for 65+ years and probably never see it again. Perfect storm or act of God…hopefully they do add some additional fencing but please let people continue to stand trackside in the pits. Seekonk lets people sit 2 feet from the outside wall all the way around. Plenty of dirt tracks don’t even have a wall separating turns from pits, just a large expanse of grass or dirt.

  29. With my Polish engineering training I’ve come up with an idea.. Can I say Polish engineering or is that offensive. Oh well too late now.
    One word….gusset. Exciting isn’t it and so apt in the world of motorsports. We love gussets don’t we? Simple, cost effective and a proven safety measure.
    1/8 by 3 inch strip stock pre cut at the appropriate angles in the shop ideally with an iron worker. One plate each, four welds reinforcing the cheesy cast joint at the top of the fence.
    Now the best part. Let the fans sponsor their own gusset. Put their names on it for posterity.
    Come on man that’s gold isn’t it? Just trying to help.

  30. I think the issue here with Jordan’s and Gada’s cars going so far in the crash is the concrete wall itself. Both cars hopped the wall and just slid on the top of it . The old Armco barriers would give a little and their shape seemed to prevent this kind of sliding. Of course they would get damaged and they would need to be replaced from time which wasn’t happening in the last few years before Bemer bought the track. I do remember years ago Potter and Ceravolo’s cars hopping the wall and getting caught in the fence and the old fence did its job in slowing the cars up

  31. Bernie20never says

    Bone is onto something. Anytime you have a wall that is 90 degrees and a track that is banked you have built a ramp, not a wall. This isn’t the first or last time this will happen.

  32. If the worst case scenario did happen it would be brutal. The car would not ride the wall and just go into the fence. Going along against the wall/Armco will slow the car down. Friction along a solid surface is a lot more forgiving than air. If you were to get airborne, not touching anything accept the other car would lead to the car flying around and hitting the fence in one fell swoop it would be rough. It would mean catching the entire car or it going through the catch fence. A 2600lbs car would be an issue for any catch fence. Less so for Stafford and Waterford. And riding a wall into a catch fence ended that day. Look at some of the other catch fences around. I assume everyone has an idea of what constitutes this. If anyone was to look at some of these fences, we may get a few less races.

  33. Speedbowl14, Bob Potter left the track at Waterford out of turn 2 I believe early or mid 1980’s. Locked wheels and went up in the air. Took the catch fence down. He didn’t wreck half way down the backstretch and wreck 50ft of fencing in turn 3.
    Concrete walls should slow the cars down more, more abrasive nature of concrete. I implore people to look around when they go to a race. There are some issues as far as safety. And when the speeds go up, so do the concerns.

  34. I was at Lebanon Valley when a world of outlaw sprint car was collected into the turn one catch fence. Nothing happened. Driver was safe and no on got hurt. That car was moving probably about 130mph. Fence was in no need of repair. Dirt tracks have more of an issue with this but it still pertains to asphalt racing.

  35. Anyone remember Corkey Cookman ending up in the turn 4 stands at Stafford? That was a real scary incident. Fence and cables failed that night.

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